Seeking Letter Writers
In order to have the strongest letters of recommendation possible, follow these guidelines:
- Choose recommenders who are familiar with you and your academic work, and who can articulate your strengths. Seek ranked, established recommenders to write for you. Avoid requesting letters from high school teachers, graduate instructors, or faculty who do not know you well enough to write letters.
- Discuss your plans with your recommenders in person. Communicate to the writer why their letter would be valuable and important, and invite the writer to ask any questions about your candidacy and your goals. This conversation may feel awkward at first, but it will only make you a better candidate.
- Provide your recommenders with a copy of your personal statement or application essay.
- Give your recommenders enough time to write. Approach them at least two weeks in advance of a deadline.
- Provide your recommenders with clear and accurate directions. No two applications are alike. Make sure your recommender knows what their letter should address, when the letter is due, how the request for a letter of recommendation will arrive, and how they should submit the letter.
- Do not worry about asking the same faculty members for multiple letters for different opportunities. In many cases, the same skeletal letter can be tailored for a range of scholarships, fellowships, and graduate applications.